Tag Archive | Chasing Joy

We Laughed and Laughed and Laughed

Mim and Mom chuckling over something

Mim and Mom chuckling again

Some of my fondest memories of my parents are of Mim and me sitting together with them around the dining room table, talking about our everyday lives, and laughing and laughing and laughing.

In the 1970s and 1980s when Mim and I lived in Chicago, we drove to Wisconsin to visit my parents about once every month or two. We usually arrived about noon on Saturday, in time for dinner, and returned to Chicago Sunday afternoon.  My mom would have meat and potatoes and vegetables just about ready to set on the table when we pulled into the driveway. The four of us would catch up on all our news as we ate dinner. But we didn’t stop talking even when we finished the ice cream and homemade cookies we often had for dessert. We kept lingering.

Dad and me laughing over more conversation as we drained the coffee pot

Dad and me laughing over more conversation as we drained the coffee pot

Those were happy times together. Many of the stories we shared with each other ended up with all of us laughing about some aspect of the story, like bemoaning the unintended consequences of a foolish mistake one of us had made. Every one of those dinnertime conversations lasted at least an hour, sometimes two.

I thought about those family dinners last week as I was reading Chasing Joy: Musings on Life in a Bittersweet World by Edward Hays. That’s one of the books I’m  reading to help me in my 2014 focus on the word “joy.”

In one of his musings, Hays described the Apache creation story. As God was creating the very first man, God gave him the abilities to talk, walk and run, think and plan, and look and hear – but something was still missing. So God withheld life until he could do one more thing – laugh. When man finally laughed, God said, “Now at last are you fit to be alive.”

Baby-laughing 2

“I’ve got my soul!”

In a later reflection, Hays described another Native American belief. “Among the Navajo, a newborn baby is carefully observed for his or her soul moment, that mystical moment when the baby first laughs. The Navajo believe that the soul, which in their native language is the same word as wind, as in Hebrew, enters the body sometime soon after birth. When the baby first laughs, it signals that glorious moment when the soul has finally been attached to the infant’s body.”

Patti and Edith laughing 2

Sisters sharing a moment of joy

In my mind, sharing a first good laugh together still marks the beginning of a new life – the life of a new relationship, of a new friendship. The first time a new resident laughs with us around the table at Country Comforts is the moment we become truly a family. When we laugh together, we are enjoying each other’s company, we are all experiencing joy. This shared laughter may not necessarily be a boisterous belly laugh. It may be a slight smile, or an impish grin. Regardless of how loud our laughter, we are sharing joy. And that’s what God wants for us. The Bible instructs us in I Thessalonians 5:16-18:

Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. [New International Version]

There are lots of interesting musings in Chasing Joy. The book is a fun read. One of my favorite musings is entitled “Invincible Joy.” Hays reminds us of the exploits of the famous Three Musketeers. They never lost a battle because of their total commitment to each other, expressed in their motto, “All for one, and one for all!” Hays draws the comparison with joy, gratitude, and prayer – the three things Paul tells us to do: be joyful, be thankful, and pray.

three musketeers

“All for one, and one for all.”

Joy is likewise invincible whenever it acts “All for one, and one for all,” side by side with “Pray always,” and “Be always grateful…”  Joy will be defeated easily whenever it tries to act like a lone-ranger virtue when outnumbered by a horde of misfortunes and miseries. Those famous Pauline three – joy, gratitude, and prayer – are identical triplets that sustain, protect, and encourage one another when they are lived side by side.

I’m really thankful that my parents taught me to laugh with them around the dinner table, to share the joy in our lives. I need to remember to pray, to thank God for that blessing and for all the joy our Creator placed in the world for us to discover.  Joy, gratitude, and prayer – the invincible triplets.

A joyful breakfast at Country Comforts Assisted Living

A joyful breakfast at Country Comforts Assisted Living


I can’t put it off any longer

File DrawerIt’s time. I added it to my to-do list on January 1, 2014. It’s well past time to pull out the 13 bulging folders from the file drawer, the folders labeled “January 2013” through “December 2013” and “Misc. Tax Info.”

I haven’t clicked on the QuickBooks icon on my desktop since last February, when I finished “doing the accounting” for 2012. For me, “doing the accounting” really means entering receipts and expenses for our businesses into the computer and printing out a few reports to give to a real accountant who will prepare our financial statements and our taxes.

Organizing and entering a year’s worth of transactions usually takes me about a week of 10 to 12-hour workdays. Every year I think about changing my pattern and “doing the accounting” on a monthly basis, but I’ve stuck to the same annual pattern for 15 years, so I doubt that I’ll ever change. My week for “doing accounting” early in the new year always becomes my least favorite week of the year, but I survive it. I guess this practice is part of my disguise – so no one will ever guess that I have an MBA from one of the most prestigious business schools in the country, the University of Chicago. My guess is they would not like to claim me as one of their own.

Anyway, I can’t put it off any longer…

Elsie at PresHouse

Mom working at Presbyterian Student Center at UW Madison

I think I learned something about procrastination from my mom. She was always very organized, and she got everything done that needed to be done by the time it needed to be done. But I remember once she told me that she always ironed my dad’s shirts last. Back in those days, housewives ironed almost everything, from sheets and pillow cases to shirts and pants, even handkerchiefs. My mom had a full-time job as a financial secretary for the Presbyterian Student Center in Madison in addition to being a farmer’s wife and raising three kids, but she still ironed everything – until she could teach me to take over that job. One day she told me about how she ironed clothes. She hated to iron my dad’s Sunday shirt the most of all, so she ironed it last – just in case the end of the world would come before she got to it.

Pablo Picasso thought a lot like my mom. He is quoted in www.goodreads.com as saying, “Only put off until tomorrow what you are willing to die having left undone.”

That sounds like a good case for procrastination to me! If I die before I get the accounting done, that’s fine with me. However, I’m sure Mim wouldn’t like it.

Mark Twain shared his words of wisdom on procrastination, too. He said, “Never put off till tomorrow what may be done day after tomorrow just as well.” I guess that’s my justification for doing accounting once a year instead of once a month.

Well, I guess it’s now “the day after tomorrow for me.” I really need to click on the QuickBooks icon.

Something that helps me focus on getting something done that I really hate to do, like accounting, is promising myself a reward when I complete the task. I’ve already ordered my reward from Amazon.com. Since my special word for 2014 is JOY, I’ve ordered the book CHASING JOY: MUSINGS ON LIFE IN A BITTERSWEET WORLD by Edward Hays. The book should arrive today or tomorrow, but I won’t let myself start reading it until the accounting is done.

I’d better get busy.

Chasing Joy